Generally affable yet completely forgettable, Hearts of the West follows struggling 1930s writer Lewis Tater as he stumbles upon a low-budget Western shoot and quickly falls in with the ragtag crew (including the cantankerous director and the fetching script girl). Filmmaker Howard Zieff, working from Rob Thompson’s laid-back screenplay, has infused Hearts of the West with a deliberateness that does, for the most part, prevent one from wholeheartedly embracing the material or the characters, and it’s clear, too, that the narrative’s episodic bent paves the way for a rocky, hit-and-miss midsection that’s generally more miss than hit. There’s nevertheless little doubt that Hearts of the West‘s pervasively agreeable atmosphere ensures that the whole thing is, at the very least, watchable from start to finish, with, especially, the uniformly appealing performances playing an instrumental role in sustaining one’s interest even through the picture’s more overtly padded-out stretches. (Bridges delivers as charismatic and ingratiating a turn as one might’ve anticipated, while the supporting cast, which includes Alan Arkin, Andy Griffith, and Blythe Danner, provides more-than-able color along the movie’s periphery.) The end result is a perfectly passable little comedy that evaporates from one’s mind minutes after the credits roll, which is a shame, certainly, given the potential afforded by the promising setup and stellar roster of performers.
**1/2 out of ****